Bradley Franzen, one of the people who operated the online payment processors, has pled guilty to money laundering and aiding unlawful Internet gambling. He cut a deal to talk. Can’t blame the guy – he faces more than twenty years in prison, though likely will get far less in exchange for his plea and cooperation. (Even though pleading guilty to a federal indictment is far less forgiving than the movies make it out to be or pleading guilty to a state indictment usually is.) If I’m one of the other 10 indicted people, I’d be pretty nervous though. The Feds doesn’t cut deals out of the goodness of its heart. More dominoes likely will fall soon.
A report is circulating that a loophole (intentional?) in the Cereus network, which includes Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, permits US-based players to continue to play poker despite the federal crackdown. If I am the Department of Justice and this is true, I am not a happy camper. Think of getting one-outed on the river in PLO mad. The last thing the poker world needs right now is a bunch of greedy poker site owners trying to squeeze a few more bucks out of the US market before the market closes, perhaps permanently. It can serve only to rile the feds and strengthen their resolve. Good work Cereus. Way to think of the big picture. (Of course, like all criminals…Absolute and Ultimate Bet deny the allegations.)
In a tad of good news, which we all need these days, Absolute Poker (and Ultimate Bet) announced that they have reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that will permit them to return funds to players whose accounts have been frozen. In the words of Absolute Poker itself: “Absolute Poker has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”). Under the agreement, the US Attorney’s Office has agreed to provide all necessary assurances that third parties may work with Absolute Poker to facilitate the return of funds, currently held by third party processors, to players located in the US. This provision is an important step to returning US player funds.”
Let’s hope this is a small step in the path to some truly great news in the coming months.